Page 45 Review by Stephen
A profound picture book of maternal warmth, wisdom and reassurance illuminated with such eye-popping opulence that they are swept up by adults for adults as well as read to cheer children at night.
When the moon rose high and the stars twinkled, it was bedtime for baby animals. But that night, when the skies turned dark and the night grew stormy, the little ones couldnt sleep.
They cant sometimes, with gales howling or torrential rain hammering on the roof or tree tops...
Mama Elephant was passing by. Hush, she whispered, gently rocking the baby animals in her trunk. Youre safe with me.
Mama Elephant reassures her young charges not with a placatory cure-all balm, but with answers focussing firmly on the future, the wider balance of nature, and the overwhelmingly positive compensation to any temporary tremors of the head or heart. And it works wonders!
SWISH-SWISH! The trees moved. OOH-OOH! The wind moaned. The little animals woke up and whimpered. Dont worry about the wind, whispered Mama Elephant. Hes an old friend of the forest. He brings us seeds from faraway lands.
YOURE SAFE WITH ME is wrapped in a warm, rich, earthy palette perfect for Indian climes, with patterns like those on painted clay, stone or elephants adorned for religious festivals. Tiny dots in white, cream and red are arranged in organic circles, joined by their radial counterparts to fashion whole floral blooms which youll find forming the youngsters hips. Painstakingly hand-drawn and coloured on a flat surface, the illustrations come with all the qualities of intricately embroidered cloth.
Wide-eyed whiskered fish with coppery scales float in the river below, its midnight blue surface punctured by monsoon-large raindrops whose ripples echo not out in concentric circles but in spirals instead to denote outward movement, emphasised by triangular teeth in between.
Foliage abounds! There the spots are configured to demark the margins and midribs of leaves, then thrown out in tubular veins for extra support. Like indigenous masks or painted faces, the youngsters gaze out of their protective, comparatively cool-coloured undergrowth in awe and wonder and fear.
CRACK-TRACK! The sky lit up. FLASH-SNAP! The night flickered.
The little animals gasped.
The next double-page spread of the sky splinters in a jagged cacophony of lightning strikes, scattering Mama Elephants explanation into a staccato of barely heard words. Rarely have I seen such clever interaction in a Picture Book of sight, sound, cause and empathic effect!
Please see also and especially YOU'RE SNUG WITH ME and THE MIDNIGHT PANTHER.